Terror Runs Skin Deep: GET OUT (2017) Review

A young black man named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) goes home with this white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her rich, posh family. To his dismay, Rose hasn’t informed her family that he’s white. With that already on his mind he feels nervous. When he meets the family, things start out well-enough, but as the visit furthers and he meets friends of the family, and the unusual family helpers (also black), Chris begins to realize something isn’t right.

I was skeptical of Get Out at first upon seeing the trailers, it caught my attention for sure with how bizarre and weird it was. Though I couldn’t help but think that this was going to be an anti-white/racial film disguised as a horror film. I realize some may not have seen it this way, but that’s just me. That aside, the final result of the movie isn’t anything like the trailer. So major props to that. It only gives a slight idea what the film is about and the film goes a lot farther than that. So the fact that it didn’t linger on the racial themes and beat us over the head with it was a major relief. The racial elements are there but not don’t completely take over the film. I will say that the reveal of the motives for the family is really weird and farfetched, but it’s an idea that’s easy enough to roll with. It’s definitely an original horror film that’s for sure. The flow of the film is really solid in how it begins light-hearted enough, but you gradually become just as uncomfortable as Chris and become more and more unsettled until the completely bonkers final act when all hell breaks loose. Some of the tension is lessened with some of the phone calls Chris makes to his friends back home who works for the TSA who has theories of his own. These moments have just the right amount of comedy to elicit laughs and then the horror pulls you right back in. It’s even better that the friendship between the two feels real. The character of Chris is also really likable, so you are really rooting for him the whole time.

It’s clear the film is having fun with itself, the very few jump scares it has are the cheap ones, but it’s aware how silly they are. But to add more suspense to the film is the excellent and creepy score that lingers through the film and adds to the uneasiness of it. What it also does well is how it makes you think you have a grasp of where the film is going but then it takes some turns and goes somewhere else. Daniel Kaluuya provides an excellent breakthrough performance as Chris as the very rare male lead, and even more rare is the fact that he’s a male lead that’s likable and someone to root for. Even in moments where Chris shows a vulnerable side, Kaluuya conveys very rich and genuine emotions. When you think about it, the components I just mentioned are a rare find for a lead male in a horror film. He’s portrayed as some sexy, CW tough guy, he comes off as real and like your average lead. Allison Williams does fine with the role as Rose, she’s pretty basic, even in the end when everything gets crazy, but she’s far from bad. Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener star as Rose’s parents and both knock it out of the park. Most especially Keener in her one-on-one scenes with Chris as she psychoanalyzes and hypnotizes him. They have this way of making you feel so unsettled and that helps you get put in Chris’ shoes. LilRel Howery plays Chris’ friend Rod who provides much of the comic relief of the movie, but instead of being just the comic relief for the movie he does show concern for his friend when necessary and actually does something to try and help him find out what’s going on.

While I didn’t love Get Out nearly as much as most do (it’s not worth 100% in my opinion on Rotten Tomatoes), but it is a well-done and fresh horror film that offers something new to the genre in terms of how things flow, emotions, the portrayal of the male lead, and great acting.

-Cody Landman

Down With the Sickness: A CURE FOR WELLNESS (2017) Review

A young man is sent to a wellness institution in the Swiss Alps in order to retrieve a colleague. When he gets there he discovers that those who are admitted into the institution don’t want to leave. It isn’t long before he finds himself admitted and discovering the dark secrets of the building.

A Cure For Wellness is a movie that keeps your attention from beginning to end. And this is a huge deal because the movie is nearly two and a half hours long, so I was really worried I would get bored. Throughout the movie, some secrets are gradually revealed until it all leads to the final reveal. The story is really engaging but at the same time one of its biggest flaws is that it feels very bloated with so much going into it. It all fits, but the problem is they could have made it much more simple instead of trying to add all of these different ideas in the plot. The fact that it felt the need to add so many plot points and devices is what causes it to have such a long running time. And while even though I didn’t find it boring, it was a very unnecessary length. So much of it could have been taken out. A good chunk of the movie is our lead wandering around the facility and playing detective. This is an example of what could have been taken out, along with the fact that they could have simplified much of the backstory. I respect it for trying to play it smart and make all of the plot devices fit into the story, but in the end, a much more simple and straightforward story would have sufficed better.

While the twist is fairly interesting, it is way too over-thought in how to make it work. It got to the point where I almost thought the deer that caused the accident for the lead to be admitted into the facility was part of the whole thing. I don’t want to trash it too much though because it does try to be different than, for example, Shutter Island. And at some point it seems like it’s going be exactly like that one. But to its credit it does what it can to be really different from movies of its type. It’s really weird, makes you think about what’s going on, what will happen next, and just what the hell you just watched. But plain and simple, it just tries to play it TOO smart for its own good. But for me personally, what I liked most was the amazing atmosphere and cinematography. It’s so beautifully filmed with amazing scenery, and just a gloomy and often chilling atmosphere. It’s by the same director of The Ring (Gore Verbinski), so it really captures the same gloom and dread feeling of that movie. The facility itself is also a great character in itself and the production design of it is as beautiful and haunting as the cinematography. It does have some pretty uncomfortable moments involving teeth and eels that might make you squirm. Plus there’s a lot of nudity featuring old people, so that’s pretty disturbing as well.

In terms of acting, I really haven’t cared for Dane DeHaan, and he’s not any better here. He’s very bland and has this very unlikable demeanor about him, the character isn’t very likable either, and I feel that can go either way whether it’s DeHaan’s fault or the character. Jason Isaacs however turns in an excellent performance as the film’s villain. For a majority of the film he has the calm exterior, but you know inside there’s a monster waiting to show itself. So when that happens at the end, Isaacs lets it all out. Mia Goth stars as the mysterious character named Hannah whom is considered a “special case” by Isaacs’ character. Goth captures the mysterious Hannah in a way that leave us wanting to know who she is, while even being unsure of herself. Not only does she portray Hannah’s mysteriousness well, but she also captures how damaged Hannah is and how trapped she feels within the confines of the facility.

A Cure For Wellness is a beautifully filmed and directed movie with a fresh story, some good acting, but the script overdoes itself just for the sake of not trying to be simple, which would have worked better. It gets props for being thoroughly engaging for its lengthy (but unnecessary) runtime, but it definitely could have trimmed much of its content.

–Cody Landman

Love Hurts: VALENTINE (2001) Review

On Valentine’s Day I watched “Valentine (2001)” for the first time. This movie is directed by Jamie Blanks (Urban Legend) and loosely based on the novel of the same name by Tom Savage. The cast includes Denise Richards (Starship Troopers), David Boreanaz (Bones), Marley Shelton (Planet Terror), Jessica Capshaw (Minority Report), Jessica Cauffiel (Legally Blonde) and Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy). I’ve had the DVD of this movie in my collection for a couple of years now. Valentine received a somewhat lukewarm reception from critics during its original release, but the horror community appears to be showing WAY more love for this holiday horror. I ended up leaning towards the latter spectre. Valentine is nothing but a fun, fast paced and entertaining horror movie. The deaths are creative and I absolutely loved the Cupid mask that the killer wears. The acting performances are varying from good to bad. My favorite characters in this movie were definitely Paige (Denise Richards), Lily (Jessica Cauffiel) and Dorothy (Jessica Capshaw). These actresses deserved much more screen time in my opinion.

I thought the opening scene with Katherine Heigl was superb and she did a fine job with her limited role. I enjoyed watching David Boreanaz in this movie, his performance was neutral at best though. Which brings me to my biggest issue I’ve had with this movie (and ironicly similar to Blanks’ superior Urban Legend): the final girl was shockingly miscast. I like Marley Shelton as an actress, but this particular role should’ve went to a different actress. She paled in comparison to her other female co-stars. Bland performance. I adored the star studded ensemble cast nonetheless. The soundtrack is brilliant and easily ranks as one of my favorite horror soundtracks. I’m still a little 50/50 on the plot twist at the end. So many red herrings were thrown our way altogether. That pay off should’ve lasted at least 10 minutes longer. Furthermore I liked the look of this movie in terms of style and cinematography. The script needed some enhancement in a handful of scenes. Valentine is still much better than average and totally worth a look!

–Ferdi Akkulak

Women In Horror Month: XX (2017) Review

XX is a horror anthology film featuring four stories written and directed by four different women. In the first story “The Box” it tells the story of a young boy who meets an elderly man on a train with a box, the old man shows the boy what’s inside and afterwards the boy begins to starve himself, leaving his parents worried about what happened that day. “The Birthday Party” is about a mother who is trying to throw her daughter the best costume birthday party ever, however she finds her husband dead and now has to try dispose of the body before the guests arrive. “Don’t Fall” follows four friends who go camping in the desert, but after coming across weird rock paintings the friends find themselves dealing with demonic forces. “Her Only Living Son” involves a woman who discovers her son is developing odd and disturbing behavior as he’s about to turn eighteen.

The latest anthology horror film is particularly special because it proves that women are just as capable of directing horror films as men are. The talented women at hand do just that. Each story is really well-directed, even if some of the stories aren’t exactly the best written, but they do an excellent job of bringing their vision of the story to life and how it’s presented. Like most anthology horror films, this one is a mixed bag. “The Box” (written and directed by Jovanka Vuckovic) has an extremely interesting premise and I was invested the whole time, sadly it ends with a pretty unsatisfying ending where nothing is really revealed. “The Birthday Party” (written and directed by Annie Clark) was hands-down my favorite entry. This one is definitely the least horror-filled and is instead more of a creepy black comedy. Melanie Lynskey plays the lead and she’s no stranger to playing odd characters, but Lynksey is excellent here and provides very great comedic moments with pretty minimal dialogue. The story in general is one of the better dark humor stories I’ve seen and it made me almost want to rewind this segment and watch it again. “Don’t Fall” (written and directed by Roxanne Benjamin) was the strongest of the stories in terms of being an actual horror film and really made wish it was a little longer. It offers a very creepy setting in the nighttime desert setting, and the imagery of the demon released is super well-done and creepy. The friends are pretty likable and come off as realistic in how they joke around with each other and the overall interactions. So you do care for them. Angela Trimbur proves in this segment that she is totally capable of being the main girl as opposed to always playing the slutty party animal best friend, so here’s to hoping other horror directors see what she’s capable of doing. Sadly the weakest story was Karyn Kusama’s “Her Only Living Son”. I was really looking forward to Kusama’s because I absolutely loved her previous horror films Jennifer’s Body and The Invitation. But this one just came off a very basic, predictable, and pretty boring. You can see where Kusama’s vision is at, but it just needed a stronger script, and truthfully the acting wasn’t that great. Between each story are weird stop-motion-animated segments. In general they’re really well-done and set the odd and weird mood for the film, but in all honesty, they weren’t particularly necessary other than to be fillers to extend the runtime.

XX doesn’t follow full-on horror anthology tropes, but it does a fine job of mixing it up with weird, creepy, and humorous ones. Some are better than others or end up being missed opportunities, but they’re all wonderfully directed and fit well together. Not only does it show the abilities of its female directors, but it shows the potential of under-looked actresses like Melanie Lynskey and Angela Trimbur and what they can bring to the table.

–Cody Landman

FINAL Week To Submit IRRATIONAL FEAR Audition Video

Want to be a part of the latest horror movie from Slasher Studios? IRRATIONAL FEAR is currently featuring an open casting call for the roles below. We will be filming in the Wisconsin area in mid to late June and food/lodging is provided for the duration of the shoot. Please note that February 18th is the FINAL day to submit any and all audition videos and we will be making our final decisions at the end of the month. Interested in a role? Please send us an email at [email protected] and we would be more than happy to send you some audition sides for an Irrational Fear audition read. It’s going to be a bloody good time!

We currently have the following roles available:

HELEN (age range: 40-50)— Middle aged, alcoholic housewife. Helen is the kind of woman who realizes her best days are behind her as she turns to the bottle for a trip down memory lane. Hates her husband as she believes she gave up her best years for him. Has a fear of being in or around water.

JAKE (age range: 13-18, if looks younger)—- Preteen boy. Blonde hair, blue eyes, Jake looks like the poster child for a whitening toothpaste commercial. Outgoing and charming, he hides his insecurities by closing doors on his emotions.

NATE (age range: 40-50)— Jake’s father. Much like his son, he is obsessed with personal appearance and order in life. He is a high profile lawyer who has taken this weekend off to be with his son, something that he never lets his son forget. He’s slick and sophisticated with a George Clooney type style.

KELLY (age range: 30s)— Thirtysomething tough, wilderness girl who has grown up around the area and knows the ins and outs of the land. She’s not afraid to get dirty but she has a softer side after she lets her guard down.

CAMERON (age range: 16-24, if looks younger)– Teenage jock, muscles are larger than his brains even though he normally means well. Tries to appear smarter than he actually is but it normally backfires on him. He’s a sweet guy who tries to do what he can to help out others. His biggest fear is choking and he obsessively cuts up his food into the smallest pieces “just in case”.

Building A Mystery: HAVENHURST (2017) Review

Jackie (Julie Benz) is a recovering alcoholic who loses her daughter in an accident due to her drinking. In an attempt to start over, as well as figure out what happened to her missing friend Danielle (Danielle Harris), she moves in to the large Havenhurst gothic apartment building under the management of the rule-oriented Eleanor (Fionnula Flanagan). As Jackie lives there, she begins to uncover dark secrets about the buildings history and what happens to the tenants when they don’t live up to building’s rules.

The film starts out with the most disappointing cameo since Katherine Isabelle in The Girl in the Photographs. And this is quite probably worse. It’s worse due to the fact that this is Danielle Harris we’re fricken talking about, and she gets a measly 3 minutes or so of screen time before she dies, and the scene itself could have been really good had it been longer, but even worse, much of those 3 minutes are shown in the trailer. Mini rant done. Havenhurst actually as a really good set-up for itself. We have a very nicely constructed and creepy setting with some good set pieces, along with a good mystery to it. The lead character is likable, even though she has the most overdone backstory ever and clearly she has to do something to redeem herself for her past. But despite that you do care for her. The supporting characters aren’t really well-developed, but they’re painted as naturally shitty people, so it’s not exactly a big loss. The history revealed about the building is actually fricken cool. I admit I knew nothing much about the real history that was borrowed to use towards the story of this movie, but upon some google searching it’s very interesting. So unless certain elements leading up to the reveal stand out to you that you may know where it’s going, it’ll be a nice treat for you. But sadly once this is revealed, it doesn’t go much further with it. Which really is a huge shame, because for such a big reveal you really want it to go into that area more. This goes hand-in-hand with the overall motive. There’s not much connection between the reveal and the motive behind that disappearances that I could tell. Unless I missed something in my googling, then my bad. The death scene do have some pretty nice blood and gore images though but doesn’t get too carried away with them.

Julie Benz turns in a well-done performance as per usual as the lead, which in turn does help in making the character likable and sympathetic, because I feel that given to the wrong actress, she could have half-assed it and made you not give two shits about Jackie. Fionnula Flanagan does a fine job as well, but I wish she could have been given more eerie moments involving her character than we got, because as she she displayed in The Others, she sure as hell can be creepy. And then in her minuscule role, Danielle does as well as she possibly can and at least we get her scream we all know and love.

Havenhurst has a great setting and set pieces and good performances, and is given a solid reveal, but it’s a huge victim to not reaching the potential it could by going further with this reveal.

–Cody Landman

Terror on the Line: DON’T HANG UP (2016) Review

Sam (Gregg Sulkin) and his best friend Brady (Garrett Clayton) get their kicks out of prank phone calls and recording them and are put on their blog. But these are typical prank calls. They’re actually very menacing and dark prank calls. The first scene depicts them pranking a mom (Sienna Guillory) home alone with her daughter, and the two boys convince her there is a mad man in the house and that her young daughter is in danger. When Sam’s parents are out of town, Brady comes over and the two commence with their pranks as well as drinks. However, they get a call of their own from a madman who knows what they’ve been up to and decides to have some fun with them. The two then find themselves as well as those they care about in danger.

Don’t Hang Up is actually a pretty fun teen slasher film. It’s has elements of Black Christmas and When a Stranger Calls, but with a modern and tech savvy twist. The whole is set inside the one house and it does a great job of putting you inside of it with the characters with their sense of paranoia. Now it sure as hell doesn’t match up to the scares of the aforementioned films, but for what it is, it does a hell of a job of keeping your attention waiting to see what will happen next, and some generally well-constructed suspenseful moments. The cinematography is often really well-done too with some of the camera techniques reminding me of how Panic Room was filmed. The two leads aren’t exactly the most likable because of how really mean-spirited the pranks are, but as the film does progress, you do develop some attachment to them and their bond. There are some inconsistencies in the script like how the killer tells them they are to not hang up, but there are many times where they do hang up and the killer doesn’t pay much mind to this like he does when they do it the first few times he calls. Like I mentioned, the movie is really engaging from beginning to end, and besides the prank calls, it does a good job of making these two come off as real teen boys in their behavior and dialogue. Unfortunately what hurts the movie is the extremely predictable ending. I was honestly really disappointed that it went that route.

The acting is pretty decent. Gregg Sulkin does really well and probably gives more than he really needed to in the role. He shows the side of his character that gets kicks out of the pranks, but knows when enough is enough. But more than anything he does an excellent job of showing the fear and terror his character feeling. Unfortunately Garrett Clayton turns in a less than good performance (in terms of emotion). In all actuality it’s his character should be having the biggest emotional reaction (as his parents are being held hostage by the madman) but instead he fails to really deliver any genuine reaction. Emotional-wise Clayton lacks, but he does well with his comedic moments of being the typical teenage douchebag. In her smaller role, Sienna Guillory (known for being Jill Valentine in the Resident Evil films) makes her small screen time worthwhile.

Don’t Hang Up is a fun often thrilling movie that does really well with it’s one location and developing the two leads as well some fine performances, but the predictable ending unfortunately hurts it from being the solid horror film I wanted it to end up being.

–Cody Landman

Horror Flashback: THE THING (1982) Review

About one week ago I watched “The Thing (1982)” for the first time. This movie is directed by John Carpenter (Halloween) and based on John H. Campbell, Jr.’s novella “Who Goes There?” – which was first adapted in 1951 as “The Thing from Another World”. The cast includes Kurt Russell (The Hateful Eight), Wilford Brimley (Cocoon), T.K. Carter (Runaway Train), David Clennon (Gone Girl), Keith David (Platoon) and Richard Dysart (Back to the Future Part III). I’ve had the DVD of this movie in my collection for a little under three years now.

This is the third John Carpenter movie I’ve ever watched after “Halloween (1978)” and “The Fog (1980)”. I’ve heard nothing but excellent things about this remake. I did see the prequel of the same name when it first came out in 2011 and I really liked that movie. It wouldn’t come as a huge surprise that I ended up loving the 1982 version even more. The acting by the all-male cast is excellent. Kurt Russell’s performance was hands down the best of the bunch. There is so much suspense and a sense of dread throughout the entire movie. Two aspects that definitely helped to elevate the suspense are the hair-raising musical score by Ennio Morricone and the creepy make-up effects by Rob Bottin. After watching the feature length making of documentary “John Carpenter’s The Thing: Terror Takes Shape” (which everyone MUST watch) I’ve gained so much more respect and admiration for the production of this movie. There was a lot of hard work that went into making this movie and every cast & crew member deserves credit for that.

John Carpenter delivered yet another timeless classic! There are some minor flaws that I’ve experienced while watching The Thing, such as: the totally wrong anamorphic shot 2.39:1 “scope” ratio, the muddled pacing in some scenes and the ending. I get what the makers were trying to do with the ending, but the alternate ending would’ve worked better in my opinion. I learned that the footage was actually filmed, but it has yet to be released. Overall, The Thing is an exceptional science-fiction horror film with some of the best practical effects I’ve ever seen. Highly recommended!

-Ferdi Akkulak

Slasher Studios Horror Podcast Is Back With Three New Episodes

The title says it all, slasher friends. After a long (too long) break, Slasher Studios Horror Podcast is back on Blogtalkradio and Itunes. We have three brand new episodes for you to sink your teeth into. We discuss the best & worst horror movies of 2016, the horror movies we are most looking forward to in 2017, and our favorite female horror performances. Check out the episodes belong and make sure to subscribe on both Itunes as well as Blogtalkradio to never miss a future episode. Happy slashing everyone!

Slasher Studios Horror Podcast: The Best & Worst of Horror in 2016
Slasher Studios Horror Podcast is back with a special episode as Kevin Sommerfield & Andrew Beirl discuss their favorite and least favorite horror movies of 2016 and also discuss their latest horror film, IRRATIONAL FEAR.

Slasher Studios Horror Podcast: Upcoming Horror Movies of 2017
On a brand new Slasher Studios Horror Podcast, our hosts Kevin Sommerfield and Andrew Beirl will be dig back into their worst horror movies of 2016 as well as discuss the new horror movies they are looking forward to in 2017.

Slasher Studios Horror Podcast: Horror Actresses That Deserve a Breakout
On a brand new Slasher Studios Horror Pocast, our hosts Kevin Sommerfield and Andrew Beirl celebrate Women in Horror month by picking the horror actresses they think deserve to break out into the mainstream.

Terror Comes Knocking: DON’T KNOCK TWICE (2016) Review

There’s an urban legend that tells of an elderly woman that’s said to be a witch and does the bidding for a demon who feasts off of young children. You go to the witch’s house, one knock wakes her spirit, the second knock opens the door to unleash her. A young girl named Chloe whom she and her friend believe the witch took someone they knew go to the witch’s home and knock twice. Chloe has been in the foster care system since her mother gave her up due to addiction and Chloe feels bitter against her for this. Feeling she might be safe in her care she goes to live with her mother Jess. As the mother and daughter work to rebuild their relationship, the evil that Chloe has unleashed threaten to tear them apart.

It’s a shame that this movie didn’t get a wide theatrical release. Instead it got stamped with the limited and digital release format. Don’t Knock Twice is actually a very well-done film and provides an engaging story with some pretty great thrills. On one hand we have a very solid mother/daughter storyline involving Jess and Chloe. Katee Sackhoff provides an extremely strong performance as an ex-addict who is only trying to make things right with her daughter. Sackhoff really does a fine job of showing the struggle she’s going through of trying to put the past behind her, win her daughters’ affections, and ultimately fight for Chloe’s life. Chloe is played by Lucy Bonyton and provides a well-done performance as well. She captures the bitter and cold attitude of Chloe towards her mother well, but then does an even better job of showing the gradual emotional attachment she begins to feel. Putting the two together is even better because they play off of each other so well and really capture the mother/daughter aspects of the story and you really care for them and hope they both come out of this alive. The horror aspect is super well-done here as well. It features a lot of creepy imagery involving the demon, and even just capturing it’s shadow is enough to bring on the chills.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is excellently filmed too and provides a great helping hand into making the horror work, as mentioned the way the camera captures the demon is great, and even the way it captures the characters moving around the house (inside or out) can make it creepy. It keeps the jump scares to a minimum and purely relies on the build up of scenes, the imagery, and the creepy atmosphere to make the horror work. The script does a good job of covering important aspects pertaining to the folklore of the witch and the demon that makes everything in the ending work. It features some nice plot twists as well that keep it from being too basic. I have no doubt that some people will be able to predict what happens, and that may ruin it for them, so be it. Some will even point out some of the movies it reminds them of, which may be off-putting. The latter is a little unavoidable, but it didn’t ruin the experience for me. I do however wish that the final act that takes place in a particular setting had been more eventful than it was because I really loved what they gave, and I wanted more from it.

Don’t Knock Twice, despite some familiarity of other films, really presents itself as a fresh story and does so with great confidence. It has a perfect blend of familial drama and horror, both are giving a great amount to shine, but I do feel the horror gets more of the pull in the end. Which doesn’t bother me in the slightest. With a solid script, being really well-filmed, and the great performances by the two leads, I highly recommend this movie. It’s available on iTunes right now, but if you happen to have it playing in a theater near you, definitely check it out there.

–Cody Landman